Alison Brown is one of the most highly regarded individuals in our business. As President of Compass Records, she has produced and/or overseen the recording and releases of dozens of prominent projects, in and out of bluegrass music, and contributed to the careers of some of our top artists. Recent successes from Michael Cleveland, Special Consensus, Missy Raines, and Bobby Osborne are but a few examples.
But though we see her less frequently in this role, Alison is also among the top five string banjoists in bluegrass, having cut her teeth as a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station before forming her own Quartet in 1993. Her music blurs the edges of multiple genres, but is always based on the three finger techniques developed by banjo pioneers like Earl Scruggs and J.D. Crowe.
A new album of her banjo music is expected this spring, called simply On Banjo. A new single from the album is just released as well, a five string duet with Steve Martin which they wrote together called Foggy Morning Breaking.
Brown described how this pleasant little tune came to be.
“Is there any sweeter sound than clawhammer and 3-finger banjo in double C tuning? I wrote the A melody for this tune, and texted Steve asking if he wanted to add to it. Within a day, he sent back the perfect B section. In the spirit of the times, we hammered out the bridge over Zoom. The title comes from a clever turn of phrase, courtesy of John Hartford.”
The two are supported in the studio by Chris Eldridge on guitar, Sierra Hull on mandolin, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, and Todd Phillips on bass.
Compass’ music video captures all these top pickers in the studio. Have a look/listen…
Foggy Morning Breaking is available now from popular download and streaming services online. Pre-orders and pre-saves for the On Banjo album, due May 5, are also enabled online.